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Ireland’s 130 oyster producers need practical support by way of a working licence system and vital capital aid made available to all growers. IFA’s Aquaculture Executive, Richie Flynn who addressed the IFA/BIM national Oyster workshop in Dungarvan, Co Waterford tomorrow said that over 900 jobs depended on oyster farming in Ireland and demand for our unique quality was growing rapidly.


Ireland’s 130 oyster producers need practical support by way of a working licence system and vital capital aid made available to all growers. IFA’s Aquaculture Executive, Richie Flynn who will chair and address the IFA/BIM national Oyster workshop in Dungarvan, Co Waterford tomorrow (Thursday March 20th) said that over 900 jobs depended on oyster farming in Ireland and demand for our unique quality was growing rapidly.


IFA President Eddie Downey has warned that job and export targets in peripheral coastal areas cannot be met without a radical streamlining and reprioritisation of the bureacractic bottlenecks stalling the industry.


Following the series of unrelenting storms that battered the coast from Malin to Mizen at the turn of the new year, the Irish Salmon Growers’ Association says its members report that no significant damage was caused to any of the 15 marine salmon farming sites from Donegal to west Cork during the period.
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Aquanor 2013 report, Trondheim, Norway



At the opening of Aquanor 2013, Minister Lisbeth Berg Hansen announced that 45 new licences would be issued in 2013 to add to the licences offered to industry in 2012. This commitment to development by the Norwegian government is in recognition of the importance of aquaculture and comes as the downstream sector servicing Norwegian salmon companies (feed, marine, engineering, fuel, etc.) overtakes the Norwegian gas industry in terms of employment in 2013.


Fish farming is a more serious business than ever, and while many predicted that trade shows such as Aquanor would fizzle out with the development of large multinationals, the continued success of mid and small sized companies combined with the essential feedback involvement of operations staff to advise on purchases means Trondheim needs all its new hotel rooms to house the army of salmon farmers descending for the biannual get together.

Technology investment reflected growing confidence and industry security with the emphasis on efficiency, maximum feed usage and minimum waste, safety and scale. Cages and well boats today dwarf even the wildest dreams of a decade ago while innovations in cleaning, disinfection, biomass measurement and robust plug and play pumping and delivery systems make this sort of scale possible. The buzzwords at the 2013 show were sea-lice and RAS – very rarely in the same breath. As an economic factor, sea lice is an issue in both hemispheres and has been identified as a key cost variable making the difference between profitability and disappointment. Technology rather than treatments were high on the agenda with companies showing innovative products such as lice “zappers”, well boat filtration units, barge treatment systems and renewed efforts to make wrasse a more viable option. One company well known in the mussel business was in attendance purely to seek interest in its shellfish growing technology as a multi-trophic lice solution. Recirculation systems were also in abundance with new players from other tech sectors showing an interest. There was a general level headed approach to RAS with the consensus that it could not be a viable alternative to cage rearing for market but some closed containment units aimed specifically at post smolt transfer to sea to boost early marine growth caught the interest of many.

The PR event of the show was not just the announcement by the Minister and the talk of when Norway would reach 2 million tonnes of farmed salmon but also the launch of the Global Salmon Initiative by the top 15 multinational companies, including Marine Harvest, Leroy, SALMAR, Grieg, Norway Royal, Scottish Sea Farms and Multi-Export among others. The GSI commitment to certifying all farms to Aquaculture Stewardship Council standards by 2020 caught the media attention and the general move towards co-operation at CEO level among the farms representing 70% of global output reminded some old hands of the way representative associations worked 20 years ago when the MD would attend all the meetings. The success of the initiative depends on the support of governments and the crucial retail sales sector to promote ASC and achieve customer buy in to make this expensive and considerable commitment work for the benefit of the whole industry.

IFA Aquaculture attended a number of meetings around the show during our brief stay in Trondheim and spoke with many companies who were hungry for news from Ireland. The general view was of amazement at the ignorance of anti-aquaculture protestors voiced in recent media stories, particularly given that issues such as those on lice, feed and nutrients from farms raised during the debate in the last year in Ireland have long been dealt with and the industry is regarded rightly as scientifically, economically and environmentally sustainable around the world.

During the three days spent in attendance and travel to the show, Norway exported the equivalent of the entire Irish annual salmon production.



IFA Hosts European Fish Farmers' AGM

FEAP and Minister Coveney sign "Dublin Declaration" on sustainable succession

  Associations representing 70,000 employees and over €2 billion in European farmed fish production today (Thursday) signed up to a declaration of five principles upon which the valuable aquaculture industry should be handed down through the generations in the best possible economic, social and environmentally sustainable state. Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Mr Simon Coveney, who currently chairs the EU Fisheries Council, witnessed the event at a gathering of fish farmers from 23 countries in Malahide, hosted by the Irish Farmers’ Association’s Aquaculture Section.

IFA President John Bryan welcomed the commitments by the group and commended the industry on moving so fast in such a short space of time in achieving the highest standards and in playing a significant role in a self-sufficient Europe.
The Principles in “Streaming Sustainability” to guarantee that the next generation of European aquaculture producers inherit a fully sustainable industry rest on:
·         Clean Water Resources
·         A Healthy Environment
·         A Science-based Profession
·         Partnership with policy makers and decision takers
·         Respect for the Consumer
The Federation of European Aquaculture Producers who will also held their 45th AGM in Dublin represents the interests of marine and freshwater producers of species such as salmon, trout, carp, bass, bream and others from Iceland to Israel. FEAP President, Arnault Chaperon, said that the declaration represented a mature and responsible commitment to the future by the Federation and its members.  For more information see:

Irish Shellfish Association Conference 

Galway, April 17th, 2013

Browsing at ISA 2013   Richie Flynn and Donegal oyster producers at ISA 2013

This year's ISA conference washeld in the Galway Bay Hotel, Salthill, Co Galway on April 17. During a busy week for shellfish producers, the very successful and well-attended event took a perspective on markets, development, water quality and of course licencing and the Habitats Directive.



Cut red tape to develop Irish Aquaculture - IFA

Reports and strategies recently published at national (Harvest 2020, BIM Strategic Review), EU (CFP reform proposals, Communication on Aquaculture) and International levels (The World Bank, United Nations FAO) all emphasise the need to develop fish and shellfish farming to feed growing populations and demand, to balance the seafood deficit in the EU and to create jobs and exports in peripheral areas. Almost 70% of all the seafood consumed in Europe is imported.
Ireland is one of the best-placed countries in the world to develop aquaculture and IFA, as the national representative organisation for producers of salmon, mussels, oysters and other farmed species has consistently advocated the strongest possible support for this sector. It is an indigenous, high-quality, labour intensive, export-driven industry with long experience, good marketing know-how and a positive image worldwide.
So why do IFA members have to turn away potential customers due to inability to guarantee consistent supply? Why can the industry not raise private capital to fund development? Why are small but individually valuable grants available throughout the EU to our rivals blocked to our members? Why have SMEs increased costs in administration yet in some cases not had their applications for development dealt with for over 7 years?
These are the key issues for the Irish industry today. Resolving them will mean the difference between handing on a thriving industry to the next generation or watching it wither and die. Marine and freshwater farmers deal day-in and day-out with the realities of tough business and an unforgiving natural environment, but do so in their stride. It is when we look for support or breathing space from our own authorities that small companies hit a brick wall.
The reasons are many and complex – from the chaos created by a disastrous decentralisation policy, on-going confusion and lack of understanding of industry needs to communication breakdown between departments a lack of focus on clearly defined targets for development and how to achieve them, an overly complex and muddled regulatory framework and ultimately a lack of respect right throughout the official system for the hard work, investment and challenges faced by the ordinary men and women in the sector. There are notable exceptions, but not enough to change what is rapidly becoming a culture of neglect of a vital industry.
IFA is in the solutions business and our voluntary aquaculture representative national committees for finfish (Irish Salmon Growers’ Association) and shellfish (Irish Shellfish Association) have made it crystal clear at political and official levels where the roadblocks to development lie and how they must be tackled:
·         Focus must be addressed to ensuring a major shift towards better communication, rationalisation and reduction of cost to the taxpayer between  all Departments and agencies tasked with overseeing the sector (last count, 5 Govt. Departments, 8 state agencies and numerous local authorities to deal with a sector worth €120 at the farm gate);
·         Assign dedicated case officers and deputies to each licence application on hand in the department as points of contact for applicants with clear guidelines and time limits set out for each step of the process. This must go hand in hand with a major drive to increase the basic knowledge of practical aquaculture production among those dealing with the sector.
·         Remove unilateral decisions taken behind closed doors in the past 5 years without consultation such as the treatment of straight licence renewals, remove full Environmental Assessment or licence application review requirements for individual licence condition changes, remove demands for information which exceed national and EU law and remove restrictions on access to grant aid in NATURA 2000 areas. Before any new burden is placed on industry in future a full regulatory impact assessment must be carried out first.
·         Reduce repetition and cost in paperwork and remove inefficiencies in monitoring, auditing, spot checks and reporting by having a single agency deal with regulation rather than a queue of officials demanding duplicate information on a monthly basis from family run SMEs;
·         Both reform and properly resource the Aquaculture Licence Appeals Board to reflect its legal basis or find an agreed radical new form of public consultation;
·         Assist producers with practical issues from raising capital based on longer-term licences (currently they only last up to three generations of stock – 10 years) of tangible value to investors to using EU funds to assist in naturally occurring algal bloom or pollution incidents;
·         Respect the right of aquaculture operators to grow their produce in clean waters by upgrading waste water treatment works upstream of shellfish and finfish farming;
·         Assist and encourage marketing under national quality and environmental management schemes through Bord Bia promotion, improved enforcement of consumer labelling regulations and help displace foreign imports by encouraging more added value be created in Irish processing companies using Irish raw material.
·         Focus R&D funding into practical science to promote self-sufficiency in juvenile production, improved growth and disease resistance, logistics, early warning systems for plankton and jellyfish, predator management, adaptation of technology to Irish conditions, etc.
·         Use the wealth of environmental, health and industry date collected by the state in a positive promotion of the high standard of Irish aquaculture instead of leaving it to gather unused and inaccessible in a haphazard fashion.
It is only through a focus on these deliverables that Irish industry will prosper and coastal and rural areas create jobs and exports and look to the future with confidence.
IFA Aquaculture


Fish Health, Quality Assurance and Food Safety